Rocha, K. E. Secrets of Bearhaven. Scholastic Press 2016 244p $14.99 ISBN 978-0-545-81303-7 ms/jr Fantasy VG
Spencer’s parents are kidnapped while they are away on business. Saving abused bears and providing shelter and support for them is their business. His Uncle Mark takes Spencer to Bearhaven, which is a town where bears live and communicate like humans. Spencer has been involved with bears since he was born. His parents spend their lives supporting abused bears and rescuing them from evil-minded people. His parents and an adopted bear belonging to Professor Weaver established a community called Bearhaven long ago, where rescued bears can heal and live safely with other bears. It is a well-thought-out, self-sufficient community administrated by the bears. They have the technical expertize to fortify their community and provide railroad transportation to other areas.
Spencer blends right into the community and learns about all the things his parents have accomplished. He wants to help. He feels that he should be on the rescue mission to recapture the bears who are being put into a bear-baying event. But everyone thinks he is too young to go on the mission.
Kate, an adorable, spunky cub, puts Spencer through a training course to learn to speak and understand the Ragayo language and how to walk quietly in the woods. Spencer manages to sneak onto the rescue train and is subsequently allowed to participate. His small size and the knowledge of the bears’ language prove to be a plus to the rescue mission. The mission does not get to the bear-baying event in time to save RoRo and her cubs from it. They find her tattered and abused. Spencer does manage to save RoRo and her cubs’ lives, but he cannot find his parents. There will probably be another book.
This is a well-written book for young readers, but I hesitate to recommend it for our Books of Note because of the graphic wording used to describe the bear-baying event and the abused condition in which Spencer finds the bears underground. I feel that it could have been just as effectively described in much less vivid detail for young readers.
Summary: Spencer’s parents are kidnapped while they are away on business. Saving bears and providing shelter and support for abused bears is their business. His Uncle Mark takes Spencer to Bearhaven, which is a town where bears live and communicate like humans. Spencer subsequently becomes involved with saving some bears himself, while also looking for his missing parents.
Animal fantasy --Linda McNeil